Topping the Charts Make You
Bigger Than Elvis?
Added July 2007
Back to The
Every true-life rock 'n' roll television melodrama has the same scene:
the unknown artist/band gives their freshly cut 45rpm single to the local
disc jockey. He spins it on his top 40 radio show and a star is born. This
legend has been passed down through the generations of wannabe popstars like
an ancient family recipe. The ingredients may differ, but in the end you
get the same glorious results: radio play equals fame and fortune.
does this Top of the Charts fairytale still apply today in the sardonic post
new millennium world we call "today"? Can a band in our current music
walk into a radio station with a CD single in their hot little hands, impress
and wow the DJ with their enthusiasm and chutzpa, obtain the magic and golden
FM radio spins and then ride the wave of success all the way
to Graceland? Well, then, I guess the real question would be, "Do you
believe in fairytales?"
Unfortunately, the music industry, like the
entire earth, has become so overpopulated and oversaturated with artists,
music, CDs, and radio stations/shows of all kinds, that the chance of your
own personal radio fairytale coming true is probably slim to none. But,
don't give up on your favorite audio media outlet. Radio may not catapult you
to instant superstardom but it certainly can help to push you down the path
to success. The following are a few tips that will help you to make your own
music fairytale and get your music heard throughout the airwaves:
Get Out Of Major Market The Top 40 Station Mentality
There was a day
getting played on a big city Top 40 radio station was like winning a gold
medal at the Olympics. Bands that were chosen for play were handpicked by the
voices of the airwaves whose ears were finely tuned to pick out the next new
rising star. Today, things are a little different. Radio has become a huge
corporation with three major conglomerates owning most of the stations in the
U.S. Sadly, disc jockeys are no longer the innovators their predecessors
were. Station management hands down a playlist (made
exclusively of artists
signed to mostly major labels) and the voices you hear on your radio are just
that-talking heads animating a script. It's nearly impossible for an unknown
band to break into mainstream large metropolis radio and a waste of your time
and money to send packages blindly to a medium that will more than likely
reject you again and again.
The Specialty Show Is Your Ticket In
determined to get played on that hot radio station with 10 million listeners
and a celebrity DJ? Well, there is a backdoor that you may be able to slip
through. It's the specialty show. Many huge stations feature a weekly show
structured just to highlight the little guy-to showcase unsigned artists from
that station's area and sometimes beyond. These shows are always worth
sending your press package to, as they tend to base their playlist on your
music and your credentials on not on the typical corporate artist roster.
This is where you just might wow that innovative disc jockey and garner play
on some of America's biggest stations.
College Radio Still Rocks.
area of radio that has stayed unaffected by huge corporate retooling is the
college/university station. Unlike companies/labels deciding what the
listening audience thinks is cool or hip, college radio DJs and program
directors are still setting their own cutting edges, breaking new artists,
and finding the hot fresh stars of tomorrow hiding in their local clubs,
coffee houses and garages. It's always beneficial for unsigned artists to
send as many CDs (or email as many MP3s, if the station will accept that
medium) to as many college stations as you can find. You will find stations
to play you and people will be listening. This could lead to new fans, tour
possibilities, and will definitely look fantastic on the radio page of your
website or EPK. Whether or not it will actually make you a rockstar, it will
sure make you feel like one.
The Unlimited World Of Independent Radio
Back in the early days of
radio, indie stations were limited to audio pirates
in their basements stealing airwaves from unsuspecting Top 40 giants. Now,
thanks to the internet, satellites, cell phones, iPods and cable TV,
independent stations outnumber their AM/FM constituents in the thousands and
new ones are created every day. Since doing a search of indie radio stations
online has been known to cause a brain embolism in some, know that you will
probably never be able to solicit them all in one lifetime. Just relax and
enjoy sending music to whomever you can, as you will probably garner hoards
of airplay. Furthermore, your wallet will grow to love you as most of these
stations will allow you to submit MP3s online.
It's true that the
legendary story of the unknown band that got one single
played on the radio
and became superstars within a month is probably as
outdated as the 8-Track
tape. But that doesn't mean that the process of
artists soliciting music for
radio play has become archaic. Radio remains,
to this day, one of the best
ways for musicians to promote their music and
their projects in their area.
The repetition of your single in the ears of
even the most jaded radio
listener, may lead to: CD and merchandise sales,
gigging opportunities in
your city and others, visits to your website, posts
to your fan club forums,
potential press and even maybe industry attention.
So don't stop sending
those CDs and emailing those MP3s, because the next person who hears your
song on radio might just be the one who leads, either directly or indirectly,
to your much sought record deal. And who knows? You might just wind up
becoming bigger than Elvis.
Sheena Metal is a radio host, producer,
promoter, music supervisor, consultant, columnist, journalist and
musician. Her syndicated radio program, Music Highway
Radio, airs on over 700 affiliates to more than 126
million listeners. Her musicians’
assistance program, Music Highway, boasts over 10,000 members. She currently promotes numerous live shows
weekly in the Los
AngelesArea, where she resides. For more info: http://www.sheena-metal.com.